London Short Fiction: The Makings Of A Killer

By Londonist Last edited 113 months ago

Last Updated 21 February 2015

London Short Fiction: The Makings Of A Killer


Continuing our series of short fiction set in, or influenced by London. This week's story is by 12 year-old Jessica Nicol.

The blood trickled down my leg. My skinny arms, covered in bruises, pulled myself up from the cold, hard ground where I lay. I tilted my face up. The building was a blurry assortment of colourful patterns, despite the fact that, in reality, it was a dismal grey slab of concrete. I was hallucinating, badly. I shook myself and blinked as everything began to focus and become clearer.

The Flats. That's what everyone called it. A block of council flats in Southwark, covered in graffiti.

I carried on walking, ignoring the gash on my knee. The amount of pain I have been through before; this is nothing. I’m so weak, I need food, I need water. My tongue was bone dry and felt like leather. My stomach was an empty, aching pit. The walk to the main door seemed endless. I pressed the button to buzz myself in.

“You’re late,” wheezed an all too familiar voice over the intercom; my father.

“I know. I'm sorry,” I reply with all the courage I can muster. I hate how weak and feeble I sound. I hear the click and I push against the metal door that’s almost too heavy. I step inside the lift, trying to ignore the stench of urine. The lift escalates, creaking as if about to break but it doesn't and I walk along the long corridor, my trainers making a soft tapping sound against the filthy tiles. The air thick with dirty fingers of cigarettes makes me cough but I don’t slow down. I'm already late.

I finally reach the end of the hallway and my knuckles rap against the wood of the door. No reply. I slip the key into the lock and walk inside.

“Hello?” I turn around and close the front door with a click. In a split second, all the wind from my lungs escapes me and a sharp pain in the centre of my back spreads through my body as the ground rushes towards me.

When I wake up, Father is standing over me. The ice in his eyes makes me shiver. “Ah. You’re awake.” He starts coughing and spluttering.

“Guess smoking finally got you, darling.” I shifted my bodyweight to see my stepmother, Sara stalking over to me, her stilettos clicking against the floor. Her hair was tortured into a Marilyn Monroe style. She pressed her lips to his. Imagine how much you have to love someone to forgive the fact that they are a demon from hell?

“What did she do this time?” Sara grins at my pain. I look at her and all I can think about is how the Botox must have filled the space where her heart is supposed to be. “She was late,” Father replied as Sara tutted and left the room.

His steel capped boots dug into my ribs. “Don’t do it again.” Then he left too. I lifted my shirt up to see a red, crescent shaped mark that will definitely bruise. I can almost see my ribs; a consequence of Sara calling me fat for years. I crawled into my room that was more like a storage closet. The room was piled high with cardboard boxes overflowing with lost memories. I crept over to the dirty mattress, pulled the tattered blanket over my shoulder and cried myself to sleep.

My alarm wakes me up; I pound the button in frustration but feel no better. My feet touch the ground as I sling my bag over my shoulder. I slink across to the front door, open it as quietly as I can and jog down the corridor, tying my light, hazelnut brown hair into a knot. I press the button for the lift then, fed up with waiting, run down the stairs. I don’t have time for waiting.

At the exit, seeing the red bus rolling around the corner, I slip on my jacket and sprint for the bus stop. I make it just in time, the bus slows to a halt and the door smoothly slides open. I dig some coins out of my pockets and let them clatter against the plastic disc. Avoiding eye contact, I ease into the nearest seat and wait for the woman’s voice to robotically read out my stop over the rolling sound of abandoned bottles and cans and the crinkling of sweet wrappers and crisp packets.

When she does, I ring the bell and hop off. I walk to the towering wooden gates that read “City of London Secondary School” in big metal letters that had lost their polished shine years ago. I pause at the gate then spin around. I see my classmates shuffling in like zombies, a mess of warm bodies heaving and lurching towards the entrance.

One girl catches my eye. Sophie Clarkson. Her pale skin plastered with orange paint and her bright blue eyes hidden by long fake eyelashes clotted with mascara. Her lips pink and glossy, so much so that her hair sticks to them, the fake blonde hair that used to be a natural golden colour that shimmered in the sunlight. I feel a burning hatred towards her. Is that all anyone can ever aspire to be? Clumped make-up and glossy lips?

I turn around and wander aimlessly along the streets, kicking aside empty cans. I hear Big Ben chime in the distance and count the chimes silently. Nine o'clock. My foot steps on something soft; a newspaper. I squat down as the headline shouts out at me ‘British teenager found in Syria.’

The article mesmerises me. A young girl, just like me, no future, no family, no hope suddenly had some.

I could be her; someone memorable.

I'm sick of being hurt.
I'm sick of crying myself to sleep.
I'm sick of faking a smile.
I'm sick of feeling this way.
I'm sick of being a nobody.
I'm sick of being me.

I'm going to be someone else.

Copyright, Jessica Nicol. Photo by Gary Kinsman via the Londonist Flickr pool.

We’re still after your stories, which you should send to [email protected]. Entries must be no more than 1,000 words, and must be set in London, or strongly inspired by the city. Full details here.

We’re also now looking for fairy tales of modern London in partnership with the British Academy’s Literature Week.

Previously in this series

For children

General London fiction

  • Mark: A struggling actor becomes a hero of the people.
  • The Guardian of Travellers: Victoria Coach Station passengers take the advice of a sage.
  • Graphic Novels: A celebrated novelist finds inspiration in Shoreditch Library.

London at Night

Christmas in London


London razed

Transport tales


  • Two Four Eight: Lance V Ramsay envisions an Orwellian dystopia in the lingo of future London.
  • Old Nichol: Jill Fricker evokes the woes of the old East End.
  • Clissar: Grazia Brunello dips into the future of north London, through a glass darkly.



  • The Perfect Gift: A Christmas fairy tale in which London’s statues come to life, by Katherine Wheston.
  • The City Inside: Tom Butler has some curious metropolitan anatomy.


  • Jazz Code and the Tube: The ambivalence of dating, by Jenny Mackenzie.
  • A Free Man: Melanie White’s flash fiction piece considers a recently single guy at a bachelor party.
  • Clean Living London: Ursula Dewey rolls her sleeves up for some housework.
  • Swipe Right: Does Tinder have the answers? By Heidi Scherz
  • The Writer and the Dancer: Close encounter at a flat party by Vincent Wood.
  • St Peter’s Gate, Knightsbridge: A nocturnal romance at closing time, by Theo Klay
  • First: A romance begins inside a London gay club. By Lance Middleton.
  • Natural Disasters: Can you find love at the supermarket checkout, when your customer’s buying porn? Yoel Noorali enquires.
  • NO! SUSHI: A relationship breaks down during a Japanese leaving party, by Clare Kane.

Other tales